The Etching Process

I have long been fascinated by the beauty of line and the work of the Renaissance and pre-Renaissance masters. Etchings are essentially the distillation of balance and rhythm, volume and line in a medium over 400 years old.

The original drawing for an etching is done on a ground zinc or copper plate. An etching needle is used to scratch through the ground and expose the bare metal. When the drawing is finished, the entire plate is submerged in a bath of acid (I use nitric and water, 1-7) until the exposed metal is bitten deeply enough to hold ink. The longer the plate is submerged, the deeper the bite. The deeper the bite, the darker the line. When biting is complete, the ground is cleaned off, and the plate is rubbed with ink then wiped clean. The only ink that remains is in the bitten lines. The plate is then placed face up on an etching press and covered with damp paper. Paper and plate are then run through the press, forcing the paper down into the lines and picking up the ink. Each print is unique and the excitement is renewed with each new image.

I hope you will enjoy them.

- Mark Thompson

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